Today’s letter – Pentecost is the celebration of one great church, and any real church welcomes all people

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Yesterday was Pentecost, the fiftieth and last day of Easter in our church. It celebrates the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles (one or more of whom was statistically likely to be gay.) “The people were amazed because each Apostle spoke in the native language of each of them.” Thus formed the “one church” doctrine summed up in Galatians 3:1 “…there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Those who say that gay people are less worthy of marriage than straight people because of something in their Bible are committing the holy sin of dividing God’s family, as well as the most heinous of secular sins, using their own faith to deny freedom to others.

When these people come to you, Governor, asking you to support their agenda of bigotry and hatred, you are not obliged to treat them with the dignity or respect of a meeting, because they have deliberately and relentlessly denied those things to their neighbors.

Governor, I wish you would apologize for vetoing AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act that would have legalized gay marriage through the legislature. I wish you would speak out against those Opponents of Equality and their agenda of apartheid. I wish you would make the GOP get rid of Michael Steele so Republicans can be electable again.

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – Shouldn’t Churches Decide

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The biggest arguments I’ve been in about same-sex marriage have hinged on what the bible says about same-sex relationships. Apparently not even the churches can decide!

Some, like the Episcopal Church, believe that all God’s children should be able to participate in the rites of the Church. Others, like the Catholic Church, decided that gay people are not worthy of the rites of ordination and marriage.

When St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach had to choose between “treat thy neighbor as thyself” and “I’m better than the gays,” they decided to leave the Episcopal Church. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that St. James cannot violate the beliefs of the Church, and take the property of the Church with them.

St. James is the exception that proves the rule: freedom of religion demands freedom to marry. The Supreme Court realizes this, the legislature realizes this, and the churches realize this. Why does our government continue to block my freedom to believe, and my freedom to marry?

Sincerely,

Today’s letter – the cost of freedom

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Two million dollars a week for the next ten weeks. That is what the two sides in the gay marriage fight will be spending to either stop, or keep gay marriage in California.

Imagine how much good we could do with $20 million. My church, All Saints Beverly Hills, hosts 100 homeless people every Monday, sends children to visit their incarcerated parents on Mother’s day, rotates eight people through New Orleans, and operates ravenous family, mercy and justice ministries. Their entire 2008 budget would be gone in a week. Every penny raised by the Los Angeles AIDS Walk would be spent in two weeks. The entire annual budget of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) would only last nine weeks.

I sometimes wonder if the gays would get more media by just taking the money sending it all to New Orleans. But then I think of the 50,000 domestic partners in California and how much less stress and worry they will have with the irreplaceable time-tested stability of marriage. And all California’s children, who will discover that their government supports their freedom to grow up and be who they are, and if they are lucky enough to find love, they can pursue it instead of celibacy, suicide or a vampire-like Larry Craig lifestyle.

Clearly, every penny we spend defending the freedom to marry is well spent.

Yours,

Today’s Stamp: “Mickey Mouse” from “The Art Of Disney: Magic” postage stamp series.
$20 million is 1/10th the annual budget of the Make-a-Wish Foundation of America.
$20 million is $1.25 from every visitor to Disneyland in Anaheim.
$20 million would fund the war in Iraq for two hours. .

Today’s letter – United Methodists have their beliefs, why can’t I have mine?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Every four years, the United Methodist Church holds a meeting to set church policy. At this year’s conference, the delegates:

– Upheld a church law that says gay and lesbian relationships are “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
– Kept a sentence in the Book of Discipline that says the church “does not condone the practice of homosexuality.”
– Retained a policy that lets pastors deny membership to gays and lesbians.

I think it is great that the United Methodist Church can make and enforce their own laws regarding who is able to participate in their community.

While the United Methodist Church has chosen to exclude lesbian and gay people from their ministry, my Episcopal church (like the Presbyterians, United Church of Christ and Metropolitan Community Church) has taken a different view that goes something along the lines that every human being is worthy of dignity and respect.

Governor, why are the United Methodists allowed to decide that gay couples will not get married in their church, while my church is not allowed to decide that gay couples will be allowed to marry in their church? Worse, why is my government – and my governor – enforcing this?

I’m starting to suspect that the real threat of the ban on same-sex marriage is a government intervention in the way America worships. Removing that freedom begins a slippery slide that will hurt us all.

I wish you would support the freedom to marry. It would not block the United Methodists one bit, but it would free my church to practice our beliefs without interference from you.

Yours,

Today’s letter – a great precedent

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

In a development that bodes well for a favorable decision in the same-sex marriage case pending in California’s Supreme Court, today’s Wall Street Journal reported that the highest court of the Presbyterian Church ruled that a Northern California minister had not violated denominational law when she officiated at the weddings of two lesbian couples.

A regional judicial committee had rebuked the Rev. Jane Spahr for performing the ceremony, but the church’s high court cleared her of all wrongdoing.

If the Presbyterian Church can witness and support the commitments of committed couples, perhaps someday our government can too.

Yours,

Today’s letter – a welcoming pope, or a greedy pope?

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

During his most recent visit, Pope Benedict XVI called on U.S. bishops to “continue to welcome the immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to support them in their sorrows and trials.”

This message of welcome irritated quite a few Americans such as Colorado Republican Tom Tancredo who claims that “America is full” and accused the pontiff of “recruiting new members of the church” to the detriment of American sovereignty. The Wall Street Journal defends Mr. XVI, saying “the pope welcomes immigrants because he’s catholic, not because they are.”

But what about me and my family? As a gay dad, I sure could use the support of the Catholic Church in my every day life. Instead I find an institution reaching out to Jews and Muslims, yet more dedicated to my extermination than ever.

If we want to decide if the pope is trying to get more money and power by courting immigrants, or simply accomplishing his mission of welcoming everybody to walk in the steps of Jesus, we need look no further than his treatment of lesbian and gay families. As long as the pope’s welcome excludes the last, least and lost, his intentions are clearly targeted at power and money over the ethics of his church. .

A similar test could be applied to you, Governor, and your party and administration. And as long as your Party Platform calls for my family’s extermination, you too will fail it.

Yours,

Today’s letter – go forth and sin no more

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

The Vatican got a lot of press lately when Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti released an updated list of modern evils. The list includes genetic modification, carrying out experiments on humans, polluting the environment, causing social injustice, hoarding wealth, and taking drugs.

I’m a ‘back to basics’ kind of guy so I decided to look up sin in the Catechism of the Catholic Church on www.vatican.va. Right there, at the top of Part Three, Section One, Chapter One, Article 8, Part II, paragraph 1849 is the Roman Catholic Church’s official definition of sin:

“Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods.”

Now I’m not as much of an expert on sin as Archbishop Girotti, however it seems to me that trying to block two people from getting married is a sin by every measure – and a mortal sin when it is done in full knowledge of the harm that this groundless exclusion causes to people such as me, my partner, kids and parents.

I’ve been told that homosexuality is a sin, but I find it hard to believe people who are so attached to protecting ‘traditional marriage’ that they forget all reason, truth and conscience. A good neighbor would never do something like that to me. So I will stick to the basic definition of sin, and live in conscience that I am not the one making baby Jesus cry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – either the Church or Galileo is wrong

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Since the public policy banning my marriage is based on the teachings of the Catholic Church, it would be prudent to take a moment to examine the credentials of the teacher.

In 1633, The Vatican said that the sun (and everything else) orbits the Earth. Galileo Galilei claimed that the Earth orbited the sun. Observation v. Bible went on trial, and Galileo was found guilty of contradicting God’s word. He was forced to renounce his findings, excommunicated and placed under house arrest until his death.

It took centuries for fact to overtake fiction, and in 1993, Pope John Paul II finally conceded that Galileo was right: the Earth really did orbit the sun, and the Church was wrong.

I was astonished to learn that the current pope, Benedict XVI, is on a tear to once again condemn Galileo for daring to use facts to question the authority of the Church. This kind of blatant disregard for the brains God gave us makes me question all of the Church’s teachings; when you start to unravel them, it’s not a pretty sight.

I was taught that the universe revolves around God, not Mr. XVI. I was taught to treat others as I like to be treated myself. I was taught to pursue truth and not power. If anything I’ve been taught is true, the Catholic Church is dangerously far from God, and their treatment of Galileo – and me – proves that.

Please, Governor, use the brains God gave you and support the freedom to marry.

Yours,

Today’s letter – Saving marriage for the Spears

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

Today’s headlines announced that 26-year-old Britney Spears is getting married for the third time, and that her 16-year-old sister Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant – out of wedlock – with a guy she met at Church.

The response from the Campaign for California Families is an amped-up effort to “save marriage” from lesbian and gay couples.

Now I don’t know about you, Governor, but it seems to me that we should be “saving marriage” for committed couples like me and my partner of ten-and-a-half years, instead of people like the Spears who seem to have a problem with commitment.

I want my kids to have positive role models. I think society would want to promote that. Instead, your office is resonating the message that marriage is for something other than committed couples.

I wish you would use your position of power and leadership to explain to the people of California that all committed couples should have the freedom to marry – and perhaps we might be able to really and truly “save marriage.”

Yours,

Today’s letter – Death to the Infidels, the sick, the poor, the young and the different

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

I think that we are all on the edge of our seats about the plight of Gillian Gibbons, the teacher who was arrested in Sudan after she let her class name a teddy bear “Mohammed.” Yesterday, 600 protesters poured out of mosques chanting “By soul, by blood, I will fight for the Prophet Mohammed” and “Kill her, kill her by firing squad.”

This seems so alien and so backwards to us, I think, because the punishment does not seem appropriate to the crime. Who would call for somebody’s death for trying to do good? Thank God this can’t happen here in America. Or can it?

Religion makes Americans do unspeakable things to each other, with the full sanction of the Government. How many people will die unnecessarily because we have blocked stem cell research for six years? How many people will get AIDS unnecessarily because we blocked needle exchange and access to condoms? How many women will die in childbirth because we blocked access to basic sex education? How many gay teens will commit suicide because we block their hope of marriage?

All these ridiculous laws cause great harm by punishing people who have done nothing wrong, in order to satisfy a few religious whiners who lack the tolerance and goodwill to respect the life and liberty of their neighbors. I’m sure we look as irrational and intolerant to outsiders as Sudan does to us.

I am proud of you for stepping up to do the right thing on many of these issues, such as supporting stem-cell research, signing AB 110 for state funding of needle exchange programs, and signing AB 629 for truthful sex education – a critical life skill.

I wish you would join the people and the legislature on one more issue: tearing down the special exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. This unjustifiable ban costs the state money, deprives citizens of their personal liberty, and punishes committed couples for doing nothing wrong. Really, you don’t even need to sign anything – just start talking about how the punishment of Domestic Partnership does not fit the crime of Love.

Yours,